Jennifer Zarrilli, MS, RDN, CD-N and CT Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Fundraising Co- Chair
What inspired you to become a RDN?
Ever since I was about 4 years old I wanted to work in a hospital to help people. I became interested in nutrition and learned that I can meet my goal to help people in the hospital get better through my passion for nutrition and becoming an RD
Where do you work now and where have you worked in the past?
I am currently the Clinical Nutrition Manager at Connecticut Children’s and have worked here since the day I graduated from UCONN in 2008 I began on the inpatient units and covered many different inpatient and outpatient pediatric areas until I became manager in 2020.
What is your favorite recipe/food?
I would say my favorite food is ice cream and my favorite recipe is chicken cacciatore with added veggies.
How is food related to your culture?
I am Italian and Russian. My grandmother taught me to cook dishes many sautéing in olive oil or with tomato sauce and pasta, of course. This inspired me to truly enjoy cooking many meals from scratch. I’d have to say my nutrition background greatly influences my food choices now in adding veggies to meals and trying to make fun kid recipes for my own family to increase fiber, decrease sugar and add fruit, veggies and protein where I can.
What is your #1 tip for improving one’s diet?
Adding in a fruit and/or veggie at each meal to increase nutrient intake and variety. Also reaching for a fruit or veggie instead of a sweet or snack food helps to influence my family/kids to make better choices too.
What is one item that is always in your pantry?
I always have black beans, corn and canned tomatoes. Its always helpful to through together a quick meal, soup or salad!
What is your go -to exercise routine?
Exercise has been tough to fit in these days! But I try to dance with my kids after dinner or do yoga with them as a fun family activity. I also run at least once a week to get outside and have some time for myself.
If stranded on island-what one food or beverage you would want an unlimited supply of?
I think water comes to mind first from a survival standpoint. And of course coffee, would need coffee.
What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job as a pediatric dietitian is providing best patient care and using nutrition to help kids grow and be healthy both now and in the future. The best part of being a nutrition manager is continuing to provide top notch care to our patients and inspiring others to do the same. As well as, seeing the team accomplish their goals and successes.
What is your favorite part of being a CT AND Member?
Staying updated on current nutrition issues and getting to know others in the field with the same nutrition passion
Where do you want to see the RDN/NDTR profession in 10 years?
I would like to see nutrition be more incorporated into the medical plan for patients as part of prevention and treatment of all diseases. There is so much nutrition can help prevent, improve or treat, I would like to see that recognized further and be incorporated into medical standards of care across the board. It will be interesting to see the research in the next 10 years on how nutrition can prevent and impact disease, including impacts on the microbiome.
Anything else you would like to add?
In addition to being extremely passionate about nutrition, I am a proud mama of three wonderful children.